Heading out for a backcountry hiking/camping expedition? Get equipped right with a new tent, sleeping back and backpack:
Marmot Plasma — $650Temp: -20°C
Weight: 1.1 kg (2.5 lbs)
Best For: The chronically cold; heavy-duty three-season use.
For down clusters to be considered 900-fill, it is like becoming a Navy Seal — only the best will do. These are the finest feathers money can buy, packing smaller, lofting higher and holding more warmth than any others. So, even though this bag is rated to -20° Celsius, it packs down to a respectable football size. Pull it out and the bag balloons to downy opulence. With a little built-in stretch, we found we had plenty of room to bend our knees and roll from side-to-side, but the zipper did stick occasionally.
Bottom Line: Plenty of warmth for three-season use in the mountains and even light-duty winter trips.Marmot
Sierra Designs Flash 3 — $450Weight: 2.2 kg (4.8 lbs)
Footprint: 3.8 sq-m (41 sq-ft)
Vestibule: 1.5 sq-m (16 sq-ft)
Best for: Summer backpacking.
Single-wall tents are light but clammy. Double-wall tents tend to be well-vented but heavier. The Flash 3 combines the best of both with a hybrid design that mixes a single-wall roof and double-wall sides. With poles on the outside of the vestibule, set-up and take-down is easy — and dry, even in a downpour — and the design creates vertical walls with tons of elbow room. However, that translates to a wind-catching space-hog that feels breezy when it blows. This is fine in warm weather, but in an exposed campsite it could feel chilly.
Bottom Line: At 1.5 pounds per person, we think this is the ultimate summer backpacking tent, especially if the long-range forecast is fine. Sierra Designs
The North Face Matthes Crest 72 — $390Weight: 2.4 kg (5.3 lbs)
Best for: Hard-to-fit bodies.
A properly adjusted-and-fit large pack should contact the body in five places: both shoulders, both hips and the lumbar spine. With the Matthes Crest, The North Face made it easy to dial in the fit with a simple-and-fast torso-length-adjustment and then plushed-out the key points with breathable and soft padding, which felt good right when we loaded it up as well as 10 km later. Inside, this expandable top-loader swallowed tons of gear and a J-shaped zip allowed access deep inside. Skinny guys take note: the hip belt fits 32-inch waists and larger. A women’s version comes in 68 litres.
Bottom Line: With ski straps and plenty of lash points, this pack can do multi-sport and four seasons of work. The North Face